Every January, for a few short weeks, the population of picturesque Marlow, New Hampshire, grows just a little larger.
A dozen or so high school students converge upon the storybook New England village to begin preparation for an epic adventure: a 600-mile circumnavigation of Vermont by backcountry ski, white water canoe, rowboat and bicycle, led by Marlow-based wilderness school Kroka Expeditions.
Under the mentorship of guides and woodsmen, the students learn skills to navigate the six-month, semester-long journey through the wilderness. There is no “how to” book, no survival guide—just a few unwritten rules to live by. But 18-year-old Rachel Hemond, who has type 1 diabetes, doesn’t need much direction when it comes to survival.
Diabetes management can drain anyone. The multiple daily needle sticks, constant need to estimate carbohydrate intake and occasional hypoglycemic dizzy spells are tough to manage. These challenges may be magnified for kids with diabetes, who often find it difficult to stay on top of managing their condition while also juggling school, sports and time with friends.
Yet, 19-year-old Henry Abrams, a Cape Cod teen diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 12, says he’s grateful for its life lessons.
Henry, currently an engineering student at University of Massachusetts, credits his ability to keep his glucose levels under control to his math finesse. “I can estimate the amount of sugar in food and make the adjustments I need.”
Henry’s mother, Lysbeth Abrams, says he’s taken the diagnosis in stride from day 1, finding ample opportunities to learn from his condition, whether it be math or nutrition or task management.
When a child suffers from nutrition related health problems, it can cause a good deal of emotional and financial strain on her family. Obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and cholesterol often lead to pricey medications and doctor visits, and are sometimes tied to emotional issues that can be costly to treat.
On the flip side, eating disorders can have a devastating affect on a person’s health and usually take years of regular therapy to treat successfully.
Treating these conditions in a single child is expensive; when you add together the cumulative costs of treating them on national level, the numbers are astronomical. But researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have found that a fairly inexpensive health promotion initiative could reduce both obesity and bulimia nervosa in adolescents, potentially saving millions in would-be healthcare costs.
Their study, recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, shows that by adopting an educational initiative called Planet Health, five Boston area schools successfully reduced the prevalence of obesity and behaviors linked to bulimia. If these Boston schools are any indication, a nationwide adoption of the program could lead to less obesity and eating disorders on a national level, thereby saving millions in healthcare dollars usually allotted to treating these conditions.
In September of 2007, my son Noah started first grade. He was very excited, but after a few weeks of school, I noticed he was acting more and more tired all the time. After a few weeks, it seemed like all he did was sleep: falling asleep in the car to and from activities, dozing off while watching TV, he once even fell asleep on the bleachers at a baseball game. As parents we knew kids Noah’s age needed more rest to grow, but the extreme fatigue was starting to worry us. Pretty soon it was apparent that a trip to the doctor was in order.